Our research

A manuscript letter placed on a light box for conservation

Our research, professional and methodological expertise covers all disciplines and spans traditional and digital scholarship in all its forms.

We do a wide variety of research, from collections-based and archival research, to areas such as field recording, performance analysis, text mining and data visualisation. We have particular expertise in codicology, palaeography, conservation, digital preservation, digital scholarship and large-scale data analytics.

Interdisciplinary and international remit

The British Library collections are world-renowned for research across arts and humanities, social sciences, and the history of science, technology and medicine. As an institution that covers all subjects and time periods we are a unique resource for interdisciplinary research.

We offer international experts year-long professional research placements through the UK government’s international awards scheme, Chevening.

We also have growing expertise in digital scholarship and large-scale data analytics. We have a dedicated Digital Research team and we are a strategic partner in the Alan Turing Institute.

Our research partnerships and collaborations bring benefits to our collections, to researchers and to the wider public, both in the UK and across the world. 

Independent Research Organisation status

We have Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status with UK Research Councils. This means we are able to lead funding applications to them.

Our IRO status with the AHRC has enabled us to develop an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships programme. For more information about this programme see our Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships page.

We have significant experience of working with research partners to attract joint funding from other funding councils and trusts. For examples of our current and past funded projects, see our project pages.

Our departments

Our Collections & Curation department manages our vast collection of published, written and digital content. The department is made up of four teams:

  • Asian & African Collections
  • Contemporary British Collections
  • European & American Collections
  • Western Heritage Collections

In addition to these four main areas of curatorial expertise:

  • The Digital Research team works across our curatorial teams to support the creation and innovative use of our digital collections.
  • The Business & IP Centre provides access to our business resources and collection and supports a national network of regional centres based around the country.
  • The Learning Centre delivers a diverse programme of activity inspiring and enhancing understanding of our collections for teaching and learning opportunities, both onsite and online.
  • Expertise in Collection Care is helping to make our collections available to all who wish to discover and use them, and preserving them for future generations.

Research outputs

We publish an annual Research Report that showcases highlights from our research activity each academic year.

The British Library’s open access Research Repository makes it easy to discover the amazing range of research undertaken by our staff. From published articles about our intricate ancient manuscripts to complex datasets resulting from digitisation programmes, our research takes many forms.

The Electronic British Library Journal (eBLJ) features articles by British Library experts and external researchers.

Work with us

Find out how to propose a new research collaboration with us.


More about our research

Proposing a new research collaboration with the British Library

An overview of the internal review process for new research collaboration proposals at the British Library.

Research Report

Each year, we publish a Research Report that focuses on the previous academic year. We hope that these publications not only celebrate the considerable contribution that our colleagues make to research, but might inspire future research collaborations and partnerships.

About the Electronic British Library Journal

Our Journal extends knowledge of the Library, its collections and their research potential.

British Library Research Repository

Explore articles, reports, data, book chapters and conference papers produced by our staff through their research activities